UNRWA handouts in Gaza
UNRWA handouts in Gaza Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash 90

Ali Barakeh, Hamas's representative in Lebanon, has told Arabic newspaper Al-Araby al-Jadeed that because of financial problems, UNRWA is no longer hiring new employees and the next school year may open four months late.

Barakeh said that Hamas has learned of efforts to place UNRWA – the body tasked with aid to Palestinian “refugees” – under the auspices of the Arab League, instead of the UN. He said that Hamas opposes the move and will fight it, since it will turn the “refugee” problem from an international issue to an Arab one.

Regarding Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal's visit to Saudi Arabia, Barakeh said that the visit had achieved its two main objectives – renewal of relations with Riyadh after four years in which they had been cut off, and the release of Hamas men connected to “humanitarian work” for Gaza.

He denied reports that Saudi Arabia had asked Hamas to send fighters to combat the Houthi Shiite militia in Yemen, and stressed that Hamas would not fight outside of 'Palestine.” He added that Hamas does not accept the Arab peace plan, since it makes it possible to veto the so-called “return of refugees” – as Arabs refer to a plan to flood Israel with Arab citizens.

He also said that Hamas and Egypt are thawing relations, after Egypt presented Hamas with three conditions: no interference in Egypt's internal matters, guarding of the border between Gaza and Egypt, and security cooperation to prevent terror attacks against the Egyptian army in Sinai.